An almost unanimously positive US panel vote yesterday sets up Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, for emergency use authorisation later today. The scrutiny of mRNA-1273 and Biontech/Pfizer’s candidate, BNT126b2, does not stop here, however. Future analyses into whether these jabs prevent asymptomatic transmission and severe disease remain important, as does their emerging safety profile in wider swathes of the population, and durability of protection. All of these attributes will help determine which candidates have market longevity, although the world will be relying on these two mRNA options for now. mRNA-1273’s less onerous storage stipulations will certainly be welcomed; the need to deep-freeze BNT126b2 means that Biontech/Pfizer option is for now relatively inconvenient. What additional vaccines might come in the longer term remains unclear, but four others are in phase III. Enthusiastic biotech analysts are already forecasting sales for Novavax’s candidate, before data due in the first quarter of 2021. Big pharma analysts have proven more reluctant to model demand ahead of pivotal data – hence the lack of a reliable consensus for projects from Astrazeneca and J&J, for example. That could change if J&J’s single-shot candidate shows promise. Data are due in January.
Note: reliable consensus is not available for Astrazeneca's AZD1222, J&J's Ad26.COV2-S, or Curevac's CVnCoV, all of which are in pivotal development.